Arts and Entertainment | Art

Annual art tour walks through Central Harlem

A walk through Harlem on a typical weekend is already a feast for the eyes, and once a year, the prewar townhouses and cultural museums are joined by the work of local artists, presented in locations from pop-up galleries to wine shops.

The eighth annual Harlem Art Walking Tour, which took place this past weekend, invites artists, galleries, and businesses throughout the Central Harlem neighborhood to exhibit the art of Harlem, past and present. Works in a variety of media were presented, including sculptures, ceramics, painting, photographs, etchings and prints, and textiles.

Lawrence Rodriguez, owner and founder of the Casa Frela Gallery at 47 West 119th St., organized the event for the first time this year, working with established galleries while also coordinating special events such as open studios and exhibitions in alternative spaces.

“It’s been a really amazing tour, with people coming in from all five boroughs,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

His gallery includes the work of Lynn Lieberman, whose art presents a more old-fashioned (and more personal) alternative to Google Maps for the Harlem neophyte. The to-scale maps that she paints of Harlem include her favorite restaurants and shops, as well as local characters, all on canvases as large as 11 by 17 feet.

“We are changing so quickly up here that I think I’m going to wait another year to make the next one,” said Lieberman.

Participants in the walking tour were encouraged to begin at Casa Frela, where they could pick up a map showing all the participating locations, most of which were between 110th and 125th streets along Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell boulevards.
Just a few steps away from Casa Frela is the Urban Art Farm, a small studio in the entryway of a residential townhouse that features pastoral paintings by Michael Letzig, a Harlem artist with “deep rural roots.”

Vincent Wilson, CC ’77, a visitor to the gallery, was “extremely impressed” by the offerings available along the walking tour. Mr. Wilson had come into the city from his home in New Jersey, where he works as a photographer, for the event. A long-time arts enthusiast, Mr. Wilson said that “some aspect of my Columbia education prepared me for this—our mind is so broad about the way we look at the world.”

A more eclectic group of pieces is on display at Art in FLUX Harlem, a pop-up gallery on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard consisting of three adjacent, formerly vacant storefronts, each of which is now showing a different exhibition. Leanne Stella, the founder of the gallery, sought to make a place for “artists living or working in Harlem to show and sell their work in their own community.”

Through collaborations with performing artists, musicians, and writers, Ms. Stella imagines a “creative meeting place” for the residents of the surrounding neighborhood and the larger community of Manhattan.

For her, the Art Walking Tour is “one more opportunity to get exposure—people are really enjoying it.”


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